CONCIERTO CRITISISM AND CITIZEN COSTS
Mark Nolan / 2012-08-24 21:19:11
As the summer season comes to a close, the cultural events have not been without criticism, especially when the figures of the costs of these events are being made public.
Torrevieja played host to the Electromar fiesta, having taken the event away from its previous home of Los Alcazares, met with joy by many, but complaints by many more, and still not as successful as locations famed for hosting similar events such as Benidorm, where 20,000 attendees were expected for the Electrobeach fiesta this year, and Ibiza, well known for similar events.
Torrevieja hosted a number of traditional music events too, such as the ever popular Habaneras contest and the Big Bands competition which is going ahead right now.
In addition, one of the biggest acts to visit Torrevieja, a superstar of the Spanish music scene, Isabel Pantoja, has still met with controversy and discontent. The concert was attended by some 2,000 people, according to official figures from the town hall, but this figure was said to be hugely exaggerated by the organisers, who claim that only 1,374 tickets were sold and the organisers, Horizonte Musical, have made a huge loss on the event, despite the fact that the town hall gave them what the PSOE claim was in the region of 55,000 euro of municipal money, which was to go towards subsidising the ticket price, so that every resident of Torrevieja contributed to the cost of those who attended.
Meanwhile, in Torrevieja, throughout the summer, the “International Standard” musical auditorium has stood vacant and forgotten, as the concerts are held on the beach, in parks, in the historic auditoriums, which may well be more suitable places for these events, but does beg the question why the multimillion euro facility was built in the first place, if there is no need for it.
Over in Orihuela, a similar story of money moving and expense became apparent. The 5 Fest fiesta was held across the coast, with a variety of theme nights, culminating in a “superstar” DJ holding a concert on the car park next to the new La Zenia boulevard shopping centre. The new face of Coca Cola in Spain, 39 year old Carlos Jean, originally from Galicia, played his “electronic” music to an eager crowd of a “few hundred”, according to both those who attended and the reports from the press the following day. However, official figures from the town hall put this at 10,000 attendees.
In order to pay for this event, for which the town hall had no budget or money, the councillor for tourism, Pedro Mancebo, managed to “obtain” 38,000 euro which opposition parties claim was set aside to go towards not for profit organisations. This was not to be a problem, according to Mancebo, as it was only a temporary move which would be returned once the budgets are approved. Meanwhile, the beaches of the Orihuela Costa are continually facing lack of money, resulting in many summer visitors being “disgusted” by the state of the coast and a lack of money to repair such things as foot washers, which we spoke about in a recent article.
Having read about the financial controversy himself, the star of the show, Carlos Jean, also hit back, stating that he doesn´t charge anywhere near that amount for a performance, which also raised questions as to where the money may actually be going. Enrique Lidón, the head of the entertainment company contracted to provide the act, Globalplay Entertainments SL, has saved more than 8,000 euro by hiring the DJ through them, rather than directly, confusing the matter even more.
Once again though, wherever the money came from and went to, it was still municipal money, which ought to be spent for the benefit of all citizens, not just a few who choose to go to this particular event.
A notion of belonging to the municipality is one which many are no longer feeling. There are those who clearly gain, but for the average resident of Orihuela, they seem to feel let down by the government team, and are increasingly making their feelings know, such was the case with a fiesta at La Zenia, to which the town hall have historically contributed, but not this year, as, according to Mancebo, “we do not pay private parties of any kind”, which did not go down at all well with the 200 or so tax payers who attended this annual event, clearly having forgotten that the town hall provided extra security, fencing, emergency cover, police and more to an annual overnight party for a night club at Campoamor a couple of weeks ago, a commercial entity, which would clearly have broken any number of laws relating to noise and public order, and yet did gain support, albeit not of a direct financial kind, from the town hall.
Either way, it is clear that across the southern Costa Blanca there is still an air of unjust inequality, whereas small groups and private businesses benefit from municipal funds, whereas the citizens who pay their taxes, despite Mancebo´s previous belief that most of the citizens of Orihuela and the coast are actually in debt of their tax, a subject that became a matter of discussion and disagreement in a press briefing, are the ones who suffer and foot the bill, whilst basic services are being reduced around them.
If you did attend one of these concerts, be sure to thank a neighbour who didn´t, as they subsidised your entertainment for that night. If you didn´t go however, maybe you could keep the receipts for your next night out, the cinema, a meal, the theatre, and take them to the town hall to claim your share of the subsidy which is already being spent on your behalf.